Monday, October 24, 2016

Archbishop Chaput: Smarter Than A Jesuit ...

We need to speak plainly and honestly. - Archbishop Chaput

I think the Archbishop is smarter than most everyone I've been reading lately.  He certainly knows what's going on in American politics, and what has been going on in the "American" Catholic Church.  At least what he has to say really resonates with me.

I want to speak first about the people we’ve become as American Catholics. Then I’ll turn to how and why we got where we are. Finally I’ll suggest what we need to do about it, not merely as individuals, but more importantly as a Church. We need to recover our identity as a believing community. And I think a good way to begin doing that is with the “catechetical content” of our current political moment.
My focus today isn’t politics. And I won’t waste our time weighing one presidential candidate against the other. I’ve already said elsewhere that each is a national embarrassment, though for different reasons. But politics involves the application of power, and power always has a moral dimension. So we can’t avoid dealing with this election at least briefly.
The 2016 election is one of those rare moments when the repellent nature of both presidential candidates allows the rest of us to see our nation’s pastoral terrain as it really is. And the view is unpleasant. America’s cultural and political elites talk a lot about equality, opportunity and justice. But they behave like a privileged class with an authority based on their connections and skills. And supported by sympathetic media, they’re remaking the country into something very different from anything most of us remember or the Founders imagined.
The WikiLeaks email release last week from the Clinton entourage says a lot about how the merit-class elite views people like those in this room. It’s not friendly.
But what does any of this have to do with our theme? Actually quite a lot. G.K. Chesterton once quipped that America is a nation that thinks it’s a Church. And he was right. In fact, he was more accurate than he could have guessed. Catholics came to this country to build a new life. They did exceptionally well here. They’ve done so well that by now many of us Catholics are largely assimilated to, and digested by, a culture that bleaches out strong religious convictions in the name of liberal tolerance and dulls our longings for the supernatural with a river of practical atheism in the form of consumer goods.
To put it another way, quite a few of us American Catholics have worked our way into a leadership class that the rest of the country both envies and resents. And the price of our entry has been the transfer of our real loyalties and convictions from the old Church of our baptism to the new “Church” of our ambitions and appetites. People like Nancy Pelosi, Anthony Kennedy, Joe Biden and Tim Kaine are not anomalies. They’re part of a very large crowd that cuts across all professions and both major political parties. - Chaput at Notre Dame

That's a lot to quote - but it's important - the entire address is very important for Catholics to read and ponder.  I was especially struck by Chaput's notion of a smaller, more faithful Church - which echoes what Pope Benedict XVI said.  I don't hear Chaput condemning anyone - but simply pointing out some very serious differences.

During his years as bishop of Rome, Benedict XVI had the talent of being very frank about naming sin and calling people back to fidelity. Yet at the same time he modeled that fidelity with a kind of personal warmth that revealed its beauty and disarmed the people who heard him. He spoke several times about the “silent apostasy” of so many Catholic laypeople today and even many priests; and his words have stayed with me over the years because he said them in a spirit of compassion and love, not rebuke.
Catholics today—and I’m one of them—feel a lot of unease about declining numbers and sacramental statistics. Obviously we need to do everything we can to bring tepid Catholics back to active life in the Church. But we should never be afraid of a smaller, lighter Church if her members are also more faithful, more zealous, more missionary and more committed to holiness. Making sure that happens is the job of those of us who are bishops.
Losing people who are members of the Church in name only is an imaginary loss. It may in fact be more honest for those who leave and healthier for those who stay. We should be focused on commitment, not numbers or institutional throw-weight. We have nothing to be afraid of as long as we act with faith and courage.
We need to speak plainly and honestly. Modern bureaucratic life, even in the Church, is the enemy of candor and truth. We live in an age that thrives on the subversion of language. - Read the entire address here.

The Archbishop discusses inclusivity at the end of the address.  I apologize for such a long post, but what he has to say is especially important to ponder and come to terms with ...

If by “inclusive” we mean patiently and sensitively inviting all people to a relationship with Jesus Christ, then yes, we do very much need to be inclusive. But if “inclusive” means including people who do not believe what the Catholic faith teaches and will not reform their lives according to what the Church holds to be true, then inclusion is a form of lying. And it’s not just lying but an act of betrayal and violence against the rights of those who do believe and do seek to live according to God’s Word. Inclusion requires conversion and a change of life; or at least the sincere desire to change. 
Saying this isn’t a form of legalism or a lack of charity. It’s simple honesty. And there can be no real charity without honesty. We need to be very careful not to hypnotize ourselves with our words and dreams. The “new evangelization” is fundamentally not so different from the “old evangelization.” It begins with personal witness and action, and with sincere friendships among committed Catholics—not with bureaucratic programs or elegant sounding plans. These latter things can be important. But they’re never the heart of the matter. - Finish reading here.

Don't read too much into the title of this post.  Remember Tim Kaine is very proud of his Jesuit education - and rightly so.  Archbishop Chaput is smarter though. More credible as well.

h/t Ray


  1. Another great post, gracias Terry. Have always admired Archbishop Chaput. A gift to the American Church is he and one I hope remains for a long time to come.

  2. My beef is that with Catholics who have prudently decided to vote for one or the other for as a strategy for defeating the greater of the two evils. I don't agree with it, and there's ample evidence that this lesser of two evils crap has only gotten us more evil, but again, I can see people coming to a different conclusion.

    What I cannot fathom are those enthusiastically voting for either one of these national embarrassments, and embracing the evils - intrinsic or otherwise - that each candidate supports either by official position, personal conduct, or public statements. This usually comes with downplaying, ignoring, or simply flouting church teaching - on both sides. At the very least, the open shilling for either one of these people is a cause of grave scandal among the "Gentiles", and yes, God's name is blasphemed among them because of this. And that's not even getting to the Catholics who are voting for either explicitly because of their character or their immoral positions.

    So I can either choose to play Russian roulette with a half-loaded revolver or a semi-automatic pistol. I'm just not going to play with guns - I'll probably get shot anyway, but I have ZERO confidence that either of these bottom-feeding elitists will do a damn bit of good for the Church, the nation, world peace, the economy, or the pro-life movement. In fact I see them both being grave threats to all of those things in different (sometimes the same) ways.

    1. Should say "my beef is NOT with"

  3. Thanks for the link! What an incredibly profound homily!

  4. A great book by Abp. Chaput is "Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation By Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life."

  5. I wasn't aware you were thinking of Tim Kaine. I thought you meant someone else who passes for a Jesuit these days.

  6. The Archbishop advocates for a smaller church with ideological purity. We have that already in the Society of St Prius X. Many find that a comfortable theological home. That he was passed over for elevation to a red hat tells us his standing with Pope Francis. The controversy over voting goes back to 2004 when he came out against voting for Kerry. The mortal sin controversy was present then too. The majority of American Catholics still voted their conscience I expect this year will be the same.

    1. Passed over for a red hat? So what? In my humble opinion, a red hat doth not a holy man make.
      Compared to some who wear the red hat, Archbishop Chaput is a fine example of enduring faith in a world growing increasingly hostile towards it.

      Who is St. Prius? Never heard of him.

    2. I bet he's the patron saint of Eco-friendly cars ;)

    3. Quite possible dear AM or well, a typo. ;p

    4. Hence the wink lol!

  7. Yaya yes a typo no editing on this blog. I did get a good laugh out of your comment though. Of course St Pius but I love your answer.

    1. You are most gracious, WH. I am glad too, that the good Lord has blessed you with a good sense of humor since both you and I well know we are gonna need it in the coming years starting in November, 2016. ^^


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